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Best & Brightest: Promising Black Male Playwright Draws on Feminist Writer’s Work

Keenan Scott is an artist whose artistry cannot be contained in one artistic genre. He is a poet, a songwriter, an emcee and most recently he has become a ground-breaking playwright.

 Scott, a fourth-year theater major at Frostburg State University, wrote, produced and directed the university’s first play with an all Black cast. The play, performed at the university’s Performing Arts Center, was the first full-length production written by a student and supported by the university’s facilities, school officials say.

The project, entitled “Thoughts of a Colored Man on a Day When the Sun Set Too Early,” depicts the challenges, triumphs, struggles and stereotypes faced by Black men in the 21st century through a series of monologues performed by Black men, each representing an emotion.

Scott says the play was inspired by feminist writer Ntozake Shange’s 20–part choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” written during the mid 1970s.

Shange’s play was produced off-Broadway at the Anspacher Public Theatre in 1976; and produced on Broadway at the Booth Theatre that same year.

“My project links with Ntozake Shange’s,” says Scott. “I wanted to write the male version. All of the characters in her play were colors of the rainbow: lady in red, lady in blue, lady in purple. I decided to develop my characters around emotions: love, lust, happiness, depression, despair.”

After watching a live production of Shange’s choreopoem during his sophomore year, Scott was inspired to write his own. It took him nearly two years to develop the script.

Scott says that his play seeks to inform. “I speak on history, abuse, rape and growing up without a father,” says Scott. “I’m trying to shine light on the positive and negative issues in our community. Due to some unfortunate situations, yes, Black men end up being killers. But we are also an educated people and a happy people and a depressed people just like any other people.”


The play opens with a single voice posing a question: “Who is the color man?” For the remainder of play, nine Black male actors portray Black men in a variety of roles including a poet, a radical and a hoodlum.

“I wrote the play so that all of the characters could be each other,” says Scott. “Love can … become lustful. Happiness can get some bad news and become depressed.”

Says Nicole Mattis, associate professor of theatre at Frostburg University, “Scott came to Frostburg as someone who is very much interested in self education. He would hear topics in class and go investigate them further. He has been like that for the four years that I have known him.”

 “The reception for the play has been phenomenal,” says Mattis. “If you could’ve seen the change it seemed to have on the cast members, the young men who were in the show. It was beautiful to watch them develop as young artists.”  

 Following his commencement this May, Scott, who is from New York, plans to spend the summer in Los Angeles pursuing his other interest — music. All of the musical arrangements in the play were created by Scott and his music partner.

While Scott says he has always been

a take-charge kind of person, directing and producing his play was a new experience. “I had to be responsible for everything. I had to get my own funding,” says Scott. “I learned more in the five-month process of my play than I learned in all of college. Everything ran through me. Being responsible for 40 people’s schedule was hectic. I had to find time for this outside of school work.”

Still, Scott is not interested in becoming the next Tyler Perry just yet.

“I don’t know when I will write another play. I am sort of eclectic. I need to express myself in more than one way,” Scott says.

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